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Valedictorian Secrets: How to Get Good Grades in College

There’s a lot of debate out there on the importance of college grades, and whether it’s the quality of the grades or the quality of the education that matters. While your experience and education ultimately prepare you for the “real” world, there’s still evidence that shows grades really do matter.

Businesses still pay attention to GPAs and sometimes view it as a bottom-line indication of whether or not you’re prepared for a particular job. It may depend on the job, industry, company, or a bunch of other factors, but good grades certainly help you out in the long run. 

If you’re wondering how to get good grades in college, we’re going to go over some helpful tips here!

1. Adjust Your Mindset

The first bit of advice on how to improve grades is more of an internal change than something you outwardly do. 

A lot of students see the act of college admissions as the ultimate goal. Once you get that letter in the mail that says, “I’m pleased to announce…,” you celebrate with friends and family and start congratulating yourself. 

With all of the hurdles to get over in college admissions, it’s not surprising you consider it a victory. 

Getting in is only the start, though. College is challenging no matter where you go, so it’s important to take it seriously. 

This means you need to adjust your mindset about college and realize that you’re not paying thousands of dollars just to party and hang out with your friends. The college experience can be fun, but don’t lose sight of your goals. 

Use whatever you can to motivate yourself: write a journal about your goals, hang up pictures that remind you of where you’re heading, etc. Basically, keep your eyes on the prize and make sure you’re viewing college in the right light. 

2. Do Some Prep

If you’ve just started college or are about to, it’s a good idea to do some prep work beforehand. College workload can be quite different than high school, and sometimes, high schools aren’t the best at preparing us for those involved expectations. 

Online tutorials are great for understanding what goes into a course curriculum and expectations. Read more here to know what to expect and what you’re getting into. 

3. Timeliness Matters

College is great because it provides us with the freedom we didn’t have in grade school. 

Gone are the days of being in class from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. no matter what. Instead, you can create your own schedule. You could have a typical school day, night classes only, or even a mixture of the two. 

This freedom can sometimes cause us to feel like timeliness doesn’t matter as much. After all, if we’re there for most of the lecture and receive some of the notes, we’ll probably do well enough on the tests, right? 

Sometimes, though, just physically being in the seat during a lecture or presentation will make all the difference to improve grades. You never know if a professor is going to reward students in class by providing hints or answers for exams during class, too!

4. Take Notes Like Your Life Depends On It

In this modern age of online and mixed e-learning education, students are often provided with digital notes by professors or assistants. Most people think this means you don’t need to take your own notes to get better grades in college. 

You couldn’t be more wrong, though. 

For one, a lot of teacher-provided notes and presentation slides are condensed and sometimes even written in shorthand. Just one day after a class and you might not even be able to read those notes. 

Secondly, when you’re there in person hearing the teacher live (see #3), you may notice certain things that aren’t in the notes. You may get some clues from the lecture that you want to make sure and remember for exams and quizzes. 

It’s a good idea to take notes on absolutely everything and make sure that you’re able to read them clearly later on. 

5. Stay Out of Trouble

Like we already said, college is still meant to be fun. It’s an experience you (usually) only get once in your life, so we’re not saying the occasional party is off limits. But if you need to know how to improve your grades, it’s important to stay out of trouble. 

Trouble with the law, for example, is an easy way to rock your life’s boat. 

Anything that takes you away from your course work is going to put a dent in your GPA. Even if we’re only talking something minor, such as a traffic ticket, the stress that can put on you will compound with normal school stress. 

The last thing you want is to make life harder on yourself by getting into trouble and missing classes or not being able to focus on homework and studying. 

6. Befriend Your Teachers

Another way that college is different from grade school is that your relationship with teachers might be more personal. 

When you’re attending college, you’re seriously investing in your future career, and professors know and understand this. That’s partially why they chose to teach as a career; they want to help. 

Nobody is saying you need to attend your accounting professor’s daughter’s birthday party, but take advantage of their time! Most professors have office hours and sometimes have time to consult and discuss before or after classes. 

Make sure to ask them all the questions you have. They will appreciate the effort and may even have helpful tips to share that you wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. 

Learn How to Get Good Grades in College

Not everyone will agree that grades matter, or to what extent they matter. But the reality is that employers still pay attention to them, so getting good grades is still an important part of the college experience. 

If you’ve been wondering how to get good grades in college, the important thing to remember is that your mindset about college is important. You need to be attentive, present, and goal-oriented in order to succeed. 

If you need a little extra help on exams, quizzes, and tests, check out this helpful note-taking guide!